We freelance copywriters can provide you with effective marketing tools – such as sales letters, white papers, website copy, and the like – for a fraction of the time it would take to write them yourself. (No offense, but ours will likely work better, too!) But there are appropriate times to contact a copywriter, and times when it’s better for both of you to refrain, at least for a while.
In this multi-part series, I’ll explain several occasions when it’s best NOT to hire a copywriter, and why.
Part I: DO NOT HIRE A COPYWRITER…when you have no margin of error.
Lots of things can go wrong with a promotion. Obviously the copy can be off the mark. But there are many factors that can contribute to the success or failure of any promotion. Some of these include your list or target market, your offer, the design of the piece, the medium you choose, and the timing of the promotion. Many such factors are powerful enough that even the best copy can’t overcome an unfortunate choice or circumstance relating to them. (For example, what if you’d staked your entire marketing budget on a direct mail campaign that launched on September 9, 2001? Unless you were selling terrorist insurance or emergency ration kits, your business could easily have gone up in smoke right along with the Twin Towers.)
Here’s where an honest, knowledgeable copywriter can save you a ton of time and money before she even types a word. You see, your copywriter wants you to succeed nearly as much as you do. Your success is ultimately what pays her – and gives her bragging rights so that other people will pay her. If you come to her wanting, say, an elaborate website and she suggests that for your budget, target market and product you might be better off with, say, a minimal website and direct mail (or social media, or whatever), she likely has a good reason to suggest it.
Good copy is an investment. You can expect to spend a little money to be reasonably sure that the product you’re purchasing has as good a chance as possible of paying for itself – and then some- in increased business. Going with the lowest bidder most likely will result in substandard copy you’ll end up not using. (If you really want to try, though, don’t let me stop you. Try Elance or Guru.com. You’ll find plenty of low bidders there. Most of them are from India. Good luck with that.)
If you’re really on a shoestring your best bet is probably to learn to be your own best sales person and hit the phones. No, it’s not easy. Yes, it can be painful , especially at first. But in most cases it’s the fastest way to bootstrap your business into prosperity. (And a side benefit is that this kind of sales work will likely give you a ton of insight about what approaches work best in selling your product – golden information you can relay to your copywriter when you are ready for her services.)
(One great resource for telesales is Art Sobczak’s free e-newsletter Smart Calling.™ His book, also called Smart Calling, is also an excellent read, full of pain-relieving sales calling suggestions. It’s available on Amazon – but if you have a local mom & pop bookstore, why not check with them first?)(Full disclosure: I’m not an affiliate.)
Once you’ve solved your short-term cash deficit challenge by getting some cash flow going, you’ll have enough breathing room to sit down and work out a long-term plan for lead and sales generation. That’s when you’ll want to contact your copywriter. Ideally she’ll be willing to work with you long-term to create effective marketing tools as you can afford them, and continue to tweak them for optimal response and ROI.